The notion of bridge devices has never been so much of a talking point as now with Intel's announcement of ultrabook/ tablet hybrid devices. The origin of the species however was the original ASUS Transformer and the new Transformer Prime is hoping to be the zenith of such devices for 2012.
Aimed at people who want the option to type and use a keyboard on the go, while also have the versatility of the tablet. The slate part alone is a super-slim 8.3mm and only weights 586g, undercutting the iPad in size, while also being a similar price.
Though a smaller machine, it doesn't really lack in quality and the Prime is a lovely machine to hold. It has a brushed concentric steel body, similar to that of the Zenbook and feels nice when held for long periods. The tablet bares a significant resemblance to the iPad, but then again most do and when they don't you have tablets like the Sony Tablet to contend with.
The device connects via a 40pin adaptor to the keyboard and it itself is 537g and 8.8mm thick, taking it past the Zenbook in terms of width when added. However, it does look quite ultrabook like when put together. The keys are of the scrabble variety and reasonably nice, though nothing astounding and speed typers may want something with larger keys. It does have hotkeys, which is a nice addition. There is also a track pad, which registers gesture control - very well may we add, which surprised us, though it has a tendency to move a little faster than you may want.
The 10.1inch screen is a 1200x800p, which obviously pales in comparison to the latest iPads, though is still quite reasonable. It's of the IPS variety and though not as bright as the Samsung Galaxy's, or with as high of pixel count as the iPad it's okay, if nothing special.
The rear8mp camera is good, if not amazing - then again how often will you use it? There is a 1.2mp frontal camera, which looks good though and is perfect for conference calls. The speaker setup is virtually devoid of bass, though no worse than most tablets, that said it does have the addition of a quad core.
Power wise the Prime is well catered for and necessarily so considering its PC like aspirations. The Tegra 3 1.4GHz chip provides a good amount of oomph to the ASUS. This is helped along by 1GB of RAM and there is the option of both 32GB and 64GB models.
This means the device powers easily through HD movies, as well as browsing. Gaming is also very smooth on the device and even the most graphically heavy Android games are ploughed through with ease as are all the apps you'll require.
Ice Cream Sandwich is altered a little and the multitasking bar has a few changes made, as are there a few additional apps here and there. There is also Chrome for Android, which we do like. ICS fits the bill quite nicely and is a more applauded option that Honeycomb, which was still doing the rounds upon release when the Prime began to sell last year.
Connectivity is good, but mainly due to options added to the dock. The dock adds a SD slot and USB port. It also has its own battery and when added to the Transformers, ASUS claims 18hours of power - alone the ASUS manages 10, so simple mathematics dictate the keyboard adds 8hours - which is a sterling performance.
ASUS has created something that improves on a lot of shortfalls of the original device, while also creating something that is very versatile. However, whether you desire it depends on whether you agree with Intel and want a hybrid, or are more Apple minded and believe the laptop. tablet hybrid creates too many compromises.
Philosophical yearnings aside, the ASUS is a well built, well engineered device with a lot going for it, including a great battery life, responsiveness and some style to boot.